Learning To Forgive
Holding on to grudges, whether petty or profound, can hurt your health. Here’s how to let go and heal
Why are some people better at letting go of grudges than others? Well, some of us are “cold reactors” – our blood pressure barely rises even when we’re being screamed at. Some of us are “hot reactors”, we’re quick to respond when we’re stressed or feel insulted. Our hearts start to pound and our palms get sweaty.
“Hot reactors” who are naturally fearful, sensitive, or have low self-esteem, may also take longer to forgive than cold reactors (especially those who also have more naturally easy-going temperaments).
For some people, forgiveness comes from personal conviction. For others, time takes away the sting – but not everyone can forgive, or needs to. If you truly believe that what was done was unforgivable and are able to accept that the pain may be permanent in your life – but not dominate how your live – then that in itself, can be liberating too.
Grudges can cause physical stress, including higher blood pressure, increased heart rate, and higher levels of muscle tension. These symptoms are linked to a host of stress-related ailments.
Forgiving a grudge, on the other hand, heals you, allowing you to feel happier, more positive, and more in control of your life. But how do you get over the anger so that you can forgive, or at least, let go? Let’s look at how we can work around these myths:
MYTH #1: FORGIVING MEANS FORGETTING
This is not necessarily true because you still have to remember things in order to protect yourself in future. When you forgive, you still remember – but in new ways. Take for instance, if your friend forgets to return a phone call, instead of seeing it as rude behaviour, change your perspective and see it as her being overwhelmed by her life.
MYTH #2: FORGIVING MAKES YOU A DOORMAT
This is not true because even as you forgive, you still hold people accountable for their actions – what changes, is that you’ve now taken away their power to hurt you. Forgiveness can happen with or without an apology because if you refuse to forgive until you hear the word “sorry”, then you are effectively giving the key to your prison, to the person who locked you in there.
MYTH #3: FORGIVING MEANS YOU CAN’T GET ANGRY
Forgiving doesn’t mean that you ignore hurtful or inconsiderate behaviour. There’s also no need to pretend that you’re not hurt. However, you are accepting that you cannot change the past, and at the same time, you are realising that you don’t have to suffer forever for past hurts.